How to Resaw by Hand

With Sawing by hand, you will be able to create a curved edge on the wood and cut out your entire board for less than $10.

The “how to resaw wood with a hand saw” is one of the most important skills that you can learn. It will allow you to create many different objects from wood.

Resawing By Hand instead of Bandsawing

“I couldn’t imagine doing all of it by hand.”

My objective has always been to encourage students to not just picture it, but also to grasp how manual skills can still be used in modern stores. I’m not asking that anybody give up their tablesaw. Instead, I attempt to get them to think about things from a different perspective for a few moments. In most situations, I can demystify and contextualize archaic practices. I’ve been known to persuade people to give a classic hand-tool approach a serious go in their own store. However, there is one area where I can debunk myths but can’t quite persuade others to test it for themselves: hand-powered resawing.

What is the reason behind this? Pushing a handsaw through an 8-in.-wide board over an 18-in. length, for example, seems to be exhausting. There is, of course, a great deal of trepidation about following the line. Neither is difficult or difficult, but it takes a few tries to grasp it. It also necessitates the use of a nice, sharp saw (good and sharp, not necessarily great and perfectly sharpened).

The benefits of resawing are widely understood: It allows you to have total control over measurements (no need to restrict yourself to the dimensions available at the lumber yard), book-match grain, and make the most efficient use of your materials. This is mentioned in practically every article on resawing, and almost every article about resawing is about bandsaws. There’s a reason for it, but what if you don’t have a bandsaw, or one that isn’t up to the job? Most handsaws may be adjusted to do this duty with little effort. Sure, sawing by hand takes longer than passing the board through a bandsaw, but it’s not that awful until you have a large pile to cut. If you’re new to woodworking or want to transition to a more hand-tool approach, try resawing and see how it goes. This is how I go about it.

When it comes to saws, use the biggest, most aggressive saw you can find for the task. For ripcutting, the teeth should be filed and have some set, but not too much. In most cases, a standard handsaw with a blade length of 26 inches would suffice (more on big frame saws later). I use a 512 ppi (points per inch*) ripsaw for most resawing. I may use something coarser (312 to 4 ppi) for more severe applications like chopping up backboards. When cutting veneer (typically 1/16 in. to 1/12 in. thick), on the other hand, I prefer a finer saw (8-10 ppi). I’d suggest a 7 ppi ripsaw if you only have place in your budget for one saw. Due to the amount of force created during resawing, you’ll also need a robust bench and a powerful vise. It’s possible, although not encouraged, to resaw huge boards in a Workmate workstation.

Begin by scribing a line around a board from the reference face to the appropriate thickness (3/16 in. in the photographs), then clamping the board in the vise with the board inclined slightly away from you (1). Begin sawing from the near corner, taking care to move the blade over the top and the edge facing you at the same time (2). The most difficult and vital aspect is getting started. The blade’s considerable breadth will seem unmanageable at this stage, so do your best to steady it using your off hand’s thumb. That apparently unstable blade will quickly become your greatest friend in the process, as its breadth will aid in the guidance of the cutting edge. The broad blade was meant to keep you on course, but it also means you’ll need to get a solid start, so take it gently at first. Here’s a tip: I prefer to start with the waste side on my right since it enables me to start with my line on the left, which is easier to see — this somewhat favors me. In general, I saw a hair off my line toward the waste to allow myself some leeway and a little additional thickness that can be planed later if the board doesn’t respond well to resawing.


Continue to saw from this vantage point until you reach the far corner (3). Stop here, spin the board around, and start over from the new corner (4). 1635311647_663_How-to-Resaw-by-Hand

When resawing by hand, follow this rule: only advance the saw along a line you can see. The saw will fall into its track after a few strokes from the new side, and you may simply keep sawing till you reach the bottom of the initial cut. After that, return to the first side and saw at an angle until you reach the bottom of the previous cut. Carry on with this procedure for as long as you need to (5). Don’t push the saw and don’t race with it. With meaningful strokes, use the whole length of the blade, but don’t grasp too tightly or press down on anything. Take it easy and remember the ancient adage: “Let the saw do the job.” A good resawing job should not exhaust you. Allow yourself to get into a comfortable rhythm and learn to ease up on the return (pull) stroke. If the saw begins to wander, it will do so slowly, giving you plenty of time to adjust the trajectory. To put the saw back on track, avoid twisting it in the cut; this will only work on the edge of the board; the saw will still be off course in the centre. Instead, apply some lateral pressure and let the teeth set in to drive the tool back closer to your line. It’s the tool’s fault if your saw keeps drifting off course. It’s most likely not you. Return to work after sharpening or setting the saw as required.


You’ll run out of board to clamp in your vise eventually. When you get to that stage, turn the board over end to end and start again until your cuts are all the same length. Before turning the board over, I often advance the saw all the way to the bottom edge so I know where to start (6). If all goes according to plan, the cuts will come together wonderfully. During the final stroke, all resistance under the blade vanishes, and “thwuump” you’re done. Almost usually, that moment comes as a pleasant surprise (7). Pull the boards apart and plane away the tiny bridge of wood that remains if the kerfs don’t meet but are all beyond the point where they should have met. It’s not pleasant when this occurs, but you’ll still have a useful piece and the next time will be better!


As long as the board is under 10 to 12 inches broad, I perform most of my resawing this manner. When I reach that point, I like to switch to a four-foot-long, two-person frame saw. I’ve used such a saw on my own a few times, and some woodworkers have mastered it, but I’ll gladly accept assistance when I get to that stage. Fortunately, the majority of the resawing we undertake when constructing furniture is done with a standard handsaw.

In all honesty, resawing is simpler than writing or reading about it. Yes, it takes some time, but the pine I chopped in the images above took just four minutes, so it’s not awful. If you don’t believe me, I’d suggest you should try it for yourself, but there’s nothing daring about it. Instead, I recommend that you add this to your toolkit. Your projects will have appropriately sized pieces, you’ll waste less wood, and you’ll become the neighborhood’s most versatile bandsaw.


*Web Producer’s Note: If you’re as perplexed as I was about Bill’s usage of P.P.I. instead of T.P.I., have a look at this blog on our buddy Matt Cianci’s old website. Ben Strano (Ben Strano) has further information:

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The “diy resaw frame saw” is a guide to help you build your own resawing machine. It includes many pictures and instructions on how to make the machine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What hand saw for Resawing?

A: The most popular hand saw is probably the DeWalt DWE575B. However, there are a lot of other options on Amazon as well

How do you resaw without a bandsaw?

A: If you dont have a bandsaw, I would recommend using resaws such as the DeWalt DWS780. There are other options as well such as power saws and band saws that can be used to resaw wood without needing an actual cutting tool.

How do you rip a board by hand?

A: I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you an answer.

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Aaron Cardwell